As hundreds of thousands of people in North Carolina enroll in health insurance plans in the coming months, the need for primary care providers will skyrocket. Many of those new providers won’t be doctors; they’ll be nurse practitioners and physician assistants – the majority of whom are women. Not only does this mean more jobs for women; it means good-paying jobs for women. The average physician assistant working in family medicine earned more than $90,000 in 2012.
Wake Forest University and Appalachian State University have teamedup to not only increase the number of physician assistants in the state, but to get more P.A.’s to practice in underserved areas in western North Carolina. Together, the universities will offer a two-year master’s program. It will include a series of clinical rotations across the western part of the state, in hopes of encouraging students to take jobs in those underserved communities.
New health-related programs are springing up in universities throughout the state. As the News & Observer reports: “This year, six UNC campuses launched doctor of nursing practice degrees to offer more advanced training to nurse practitioners; this fall, Campbell University opened a School of Osteopathic Medicine focused on primary care. There are seven P.A. programs in North Carolina, and two more are planned at High Point and Gardner-Webb universities.”
All of this signifies good news for women considering a career as a physician assistant. The money is good, the job offers more flexibility than that of a physician, and there will be no shortage of job openings in the years to come.